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Okay, I have a very basic question. What are good spices to add to a marinara type sauce? I love oregano but is there anything else. I'm thinking of trying to do a bolognese sauce this weekend only without veal cause that's gross.
Candycane - I usually put in a splash or two of red wine. If I don't have that on hand, I put in a tad of balsamic vinegar. Basil is always a good addition too. Are you making it with beef? If you let it simmer for a few hours, the beef itself will add a really good flavor.
I like basil and rosemary. Sun dried tomatoes are good too.
And don't forget a dash of sugar to gut the acidity of the tomatoes. I have become a huge fan of parsley lately and love to sprinkle fresh flat leaf over tomato based pasta sauses or stir in dried. I married a vegetarian so usually do bolognese with tons of mushrooms, and the parsley compliments them nicely along with basil and oregano
And speaking of vegetarian foods, we made this on Sunday night
It's a Carrot Cashew Curry and it was awesome. I just figured it would be a simple curry, but was really impressed by the flavours, I never would have thought of using orange juice as the main liquid, but it really shocased the vegetables and spices nicely. The version I used was slightly different than that at the link, calling for butter instead of oil and chopping the cashews and mixing them in instead of putting them on top, which I don't think would make much difference.

Plus it could easily be made vegan by using a soy yoghurt without affecting the flabour much, if at all. Or on the cornivorous side, I bet it would be great with some prawns or a light fish.

Instead of plain rice we made lemon rice which complimented the citrusy flavour of the curry nicely without being to cloying
My auntie saved me some leftovers from Turkey day, namely a BIGASS bag of frozen cornbread stuffing & another bag of frozen gravy. I had no idea what to do with it, so I thought I'd try my hand at a savoury chicken/mushroom pudding. It turned out surprisingly well & has made a hearty freezing-your-ass-off comfort dish.
I am trying my hand at beef wellington for Xmas. I've come across quite a few recipes, the main thing that seems to vary is what is used as the pate portion of the dish. Gordon Ramsay uses proscuitto, there are a lot of different things. Because I happen to have some okay duck pate on hand, I intend to use it. I am not sure about my sides, though. I'll probably go with roasted fingerlings & some asparagus, but I'd like to mix it up. Any ideas?

And since meat is on crazy sale right now, I plan on doing a leg of lamb again & a few other things.
There's pate in Beef Wellington? Ya learn something new everyday, dontcha?

I made eggnog tiramisu this weekend. It was really good, but the middle was a little saggy. Maybe when I cut it, I was pulling part of the middle out too much or something. Pretty or not, it was delicious. Really boozy. Now I have a bottle of dark rum that I have to find something to do with. I'm thinking rum balls. And I have bourbon, too, so maybe some bourbon balls as well.
Traditional beef wellington, yes. I always thought it was just duxelles, but now I have read differently. Ah, the intarwebs! So I am going to use the pate de foie gras with truffles on individual wellingtons. We shall see how it goes.
AP - How did it turn out??

My New Year's resolution is to learn how to cook properly. Half inspired by Julie and Julia (the book) which I loved (still haven't seen the movie) and half because I figure I'm 23, and should be able to cook a decent meal by now.
Well, I did both, the pate & the suggested Parma ham/English mustard (I'm mental, I swore it was proscuitto!) & they were both good, but ultimately, I preferred the Ramsay Parma ham variety. The one with the pate was better cold the next day, though, the flavours really melded into something special. I was surprised at just how easy it was, it seemed so much more time consuming when I read the recipe, but it was really quick & delicious. Biggest hassle was the puff pastry, I bought the Pepperidge Farm kind & it's folded into thirds. I wish they just sold it in plain flat sheets because I was concerned by how thin it was in the cracks & spent a goodly amount of time making sure it wouldn't tear. I HIGHLY advise using a baking rack, so if any juices escape it doesn't completely sog the puff pastry.

Cooking is weird, Lananans. Some people dig it & some people don't. I found I really enjoy cooking, so I made an effort when I was about twenty-six to really learn how to make some stuff & never looked back. Have fun with it!
AP, color me impressed! Beef Wellington! Nice. I have never attempted it. It intimidates me.

Yes, lananans, good luck & have fun! There are a lot of cookbooks out there that help with basic techniques. Good place to start. You will have to keep us updated on your progress!

I've been cooking a fair bit lately, but nothing super noteworthy. I did make some really good Greek meatballs the other night, along w/ an asparagus/almond/date salad. Oh and not really cooking - but I popped some popcorn & then poured melted butter on it w/ s&p. Damn! I forgot how good that is.

I do have a question - I recently got a pizza stone and am having trouble with it. Specifically w/ getting the dough from the counter onto the stone w/o it ripping apart. I've heard about using a wooden pizza peel to transfer the dough, but I think the dough would still be hard to get off of the counter. Does anyone have some insight/ideas?
Y'know what? It's the name that made it seem so intimidating to me. It sounded complicated & difficult to do. After I watched Gordon do it, it seemed super easy & it was.

I should add that I did it a third time & found it to be more satisfactory than the first two. I chopped the shrooms instead of processing them (I also added a tiny splash of black truffle oil) & instead of using pate I used chopped bits of raw foie gras. I sealed them really well & the fat from the cooking foie gras melted right into the puff pastry. It was goddamned amazing.

QUOTE(kari @ Jan 20 2010, 08:07 AM) *
I do have a question - I recently got a pizza stone and am having trouble with it. Specifically w/ getting the dough from the counter onto the stone w/o it ripping apart. I've heard about using a wooden pizza peel to transfer the dough, but I think the dough would still be hard to get off of the counter. Does anyone have some insight/ideas?

It sounds like you may not be sufficiently flouring your counter, perhaps adding a bit more might help. I think the pizza paddle is mostly for hauling the pizza/stone out of the oven, no? I can't see it making a difference to not ripping your cold pie.
Parchment. Roll out your dough on the parchment and put the whole works on the pizza stone. Seems like it would work, anyway.
thanks for the idears, ladies. I did try the parchment, didn't have much luck. Will try more flour. Maybe it will just take some practice. Only one attempt thus far.

You are a pro now, AP! You've done it 3 times? Damn, sister!
Why thank you, Kari. They had a mad sale on the fat filets, so I bought six of them. I had to make them all, I couldn't let all that tasty meat go to waste. And seriously, Wellington sounds waaaaay harder than it is.

If neither the parchment nor the flour work, may I rec buying a Silpat? They are really nifty silicone sheets that are über non-sticky.
oh man. Just read through these and now I'm huungry.

Trying to build an arsenal of meals I can throw together when I walk in the door after work and just let cook by themselves for a while. Last night I roasted off a gangload of vegetables: cauliflower, sweet potato, turnip, mushrooms, shallots, and whole garlic cloves. Which doesn't really sound like a "balanced" meal, maybe, but it was yummy (and my vegan roommate could eat on it, too...)

tonight, I'm thinking a 15 bean soup...
Love Beef Wellington!!! Tearing thru Jamie Oliver's new cookbook. I highly recommend it.

Soonia, veggies are good and soups. I've been on a soup kick lately though. Crock pots rocks!

I just got a pasta machine for an early wedding/Christmas gift and really want to use it this weekend. Hmmm...what kind to make???? It's totally off my diet but what the hell.

Fuck that diet right in the ear for a day!

Ravioli, Sassy! That you can put any kinda stuff in it you want is awesome. Cheese, mushrooms, lobster, squash, spinach, etc. I use a good size cookie cutter & do little half moons on occasion served over a bed of lightly sautéed veg.
Mmmm... hell yeah AP. I think Jamie has some recipes in one of his books all on pasta. I know what I'm having on Sunday!!
How was pasta? I've always been irrationally scared of pasta machines (even though I love fresh pasta).

Starting a batch of rosemary pot-bread tonight. The kind that takes 10 minutes of work + 18 hours of unsupervised rising time and winds up with really yummy, perfectly-crusted bread. So, I'm eating that....tomorrow.
On doing bacon in the oven . . . what is your preferred method? I am making a stew that starts with bacon, but I don't feel like doing the bacon in the dutch oven I'm going to use. It seems there are two schools of thought on this: start bacon in a cold oven set to 400 or preheat to 400 & add bacon. My oven kinda sucks, so doing it from a cold oven basically takes, like, forty minutes, but the bacon is perfect. Is doing it the other way better? Just curious.
I've never done it from cold, so I don't know if it's better. I put wire cooling racks on a cookie sheet and lay the strips of bacon over them (so they don't sit in the grease) then stick them in the oven, preheated to 400. It takes about 20-40 mins, depending on how done you want.
Yeah, I did them both ways today as an experiment. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference if the oven is cold or hot. The preheated oven batch was just done a little tiny bit sooner than the cold batch.
QUOTE(pollystyrene @ Feb 28 2010, 05:15 PM) *
I've never done it from cold, so I don't know if it's better. I put wire cooling racks on a cookie sheet and lay the strips of bacon over them (so they don't sit in the grease) then stick them in the oven, preheated to 400. It takes about 20-40 mins, depending on how done you want.

Same here. I would say it takes about 25 minutes most of the time for me. I also use a Hamilton Beach counter top grill sometimes. It does bacon and sausages in 15 minutes max.
Who here makes themselves a packed lunch to take to work?

I'm looking for some tasty suggestions to liven up my week. My favourites are tuna nicoise salad, and cold pasta with roast tomatoes + feta.
I can't remember the last time I bought lunch. I usually brown bag it because it's hard for me to find food I can eat out and fast food restaurants aren't even an option.

I often make sure that I have at least two extra servings when I make dinner. Yesterday I whipped up some roasted veggies, quinoa, and feta cheese. It was all ready in 25 minutes and I just mixed it in a bowl and put it in tupperware.

I often do quinoa mixed with stuff, pasta salad, pasta, rice and beans, edamame, soups, chickpeas mixed with chicken and craisins, hummus or dip and veggies and crackers/chips. Hmmm...hard to think of stuff off the top of my head. I'll have to think about this. tongue.gif
Salad for this week - spinach, blood-orange and feta cheese, with some olive oil and black pepper.

Mmmm...sounds like a good salad. One of my co-workers made an awesome quinoa salad yesterday and today I made quinoa mixed with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg and some frozen berries. Yumm....
OMG, my box of tinned Spanish fish got here today. SWOOOOON! Tonight for dinner I had an iceberg/cabbage/carrot salad with romas, avocado, olives, & a can of ventresca. This tuna . . . is so good. I know that in US stores we get tinned tuna & the kind of overcooked shit in foil packs on the cheap, but the ventresca is so worth the extra bucks. I luxuriated in every bite of velvety flesh, it didn't even need salt/pepper/lemon. I had that on the salad, but the fish was just sublime. Perfect. This is NOT the kind of tuna you waste on tuna salad or casserole!
Is this it, AP?
Blessedly so, YES! Fishgasm!

I ordered a few diff kinds of the same brand & for cheaper than Amazon prices. I bought Ortiz white (your link) & Ortiz yellowfin & Ortiz bluefin. The white is exquisite, the yellowfin just a step or two below, & the bluefin will make super delicious, luxury type tuna salad. It makes me want to hunt up the breadmaker so I can make some of Turbojenn's fabulous crusty artisanal bread.

I cannot say enough about this white tuna fish! I always liked the toro when I got sashimi & I'll be damned if it isn't wonderful out of a can, too! Deep, buttery, rich, it melts on the tongue. Perfect as is straight out of the pricey as a motherfucker, tiny-ass can.

Of course, an article came out today to tell me that my fancy tuna will probably kill me faster than a few cans of mere Bumble Bee or Starkist.
Turbojenn posted this article on what 30 Minute Meals really are. It's basically a comment on how marketing has effected cooking/consumption in America. Basically the gist of it is that the companies & marketers & advertisers & magazines keep telling us that we want everything "FAST! & EASY!" instead of good. He also talks about how we all have the same amount of time in a day & that it would be beneficial to us all to use that time a little more wisely (For instance, I do a lot of my food prep work while watching tv so that when it comes to meal time I am prepared to throw down in a few minutes.) & get the whole family involved in the dining process a couple times a week.

After I read it, I contemplated a magazine sample I'd received earlier in the morning that was all "fast & easy" foods that were 75% made out of prepackaged things. Like, Sandra Lee bad, mostly prepackaged food bad. Like a pizza that was canned alfredo sauce, lunch meat, chopped chicken nuggets, & lowfat swiss cheese on a premade frozen crust. A lot of stuff featured deli chickens & pre-prepped deli foods* which are kinda expensive, I think. Or that "grilled" chicken in a bag that tastes like plastic.

Anywho. The article/magazine made me think about just how many things I ate for dinner growing up that were at least in part prefab. And the fact is/was a LOT of it. This was mostly because my mom hated to cook. We ate a lot of Manwiches, sandwiches, pasta with jarred sauce, grilled cheese & tomato soup, tacos, taco salad, chef salad, Hamburger Helper, fishsticks, Velveeta macaroni & cheese, Lipton rice sides, tuna casserole, chili dogs, broc/rice/Velveeta, sausage & fried taters, chili dogs, etc. Scratch stuff was fried chicken, chili, burgers, chicken stir fry, kebabs, pot roast with taters & carrots, ham & beans, chicken & noodles, cornish hens, potato soup, stews, meatloaf, stuffed peppers, SOS, salisbury steak in mushroom gravy, etc. She made the BEST thick crust homemade pizza. And my mom did always add her own tweaks to things so they didn't taste out of the box (I recall eating HH beef stroganoff at a friend's house & being horrified because it wasn't my mother's! There was no sour cream!). Also, every meal was served with a side of veg, salad, & a bread of some kind, usually a whole wheat roll or cornbread.**

My father cooked on Sundays, so we got breakfast foods galore, usually from scratch. But frequently sped up. Like, he'd make his own hashbrowns by grating the taters & nuking them until they were almost done & then crisping them in a pan or on the griddle. Dinner was a crapshoot. He'd get obsessed with something & we'd eat it for weekends at a time until he perfected his recipe & then we'd never eat it again. Chicken cordon bleu, veal parm, etc. And he was an avid hunter, so there would be months of game meat. Venison everything, the odd pheasant. One year he bagged an assload of quail (You have to check them for shot!) & we ate quail every which way. The fall before he died he became obsessed with making the perfect calzone.

When I was old enough to cook, at about thirteen, I started making all of the meals for the family. Basically the food my mother had cooked that her mother had cooked before her. The only twist was that if there was something I didn't like, I'd cook myself an alternative because my dad couldn't bitch since I had cooked it.***

After I moved out, I ate a lot of crap (ramen, frozen pizza, the odd Lean Cuisine), but made an effort to learn how to cook when I was about twenty-six. I learned how to roast a chicken & use a steamer & all sorts of other cool shit. And that's how I cook to this day. I read labels, I try to cook fresh/buy locally, I try to do as much pre-prep work as I can, I collect recipes, etc, so I can't make any excuses for saying fuck it, I'll just eat crap for dinner. Nowadays since I can't just walk over to my local to grab a salad or whatever, I HAVE to cook or consume leftovers.

This all made me curious about how Busties ate when they were growing up vs what they eat now. What did you eat in your family? Who cooked it? Did you eat it together? Did you get to eat fast food? What did you eat when you moved out/went to college, how did your diet change? How do you eat now? Do you cook at all? Do you cook to live or live to cook? Do you cook meals for one, are you cooking for a roomie or partner or a family? Do you like dinner parties? Do you have any favorite foods that you only eat by yourself? What are your favorites from childhood & what are your favorites now? What is comfort food to you? What family recipes would you never fuck with & which ones have you made your own? Have you ever consulted a friend/partner's family for special recipes from their lives?

Just curious.

This was also spurred by my reading "Alone In the Kitchen with An Eggplant".

*Now I wanna say, I understand that I know a lot of people don't like to cook, so I know that buying a deli cooked rotisserie chicken is a preferred option to spending fifteen minutes preparing a roaster & sticking it in the oven with some veggies. I'm not knocking on any of ya'lls choices. You're grown, you can eat whatever you want.

** And it was consumed TOGETHER & the phone was not allowed. We did have a mini tv on the table, but we ate & watched & talked to each other.

*** When the fuck did kids get so much power over what is being served? I've been watching that Jamie Oliver thing & it just astounds me. If I didn't eat what was put before me, I didn't eat. Seriously. My mom didn't make me a PB&J or whatever & a tantrum would have ensured a fatherly beating, so I went hungry until breakfast. Food was not "FUN". Ketchup wasn't green & my mom didn't have to hide vegetables in my food. I ate them or went hungry. I got shit like chicken nuggets once every two months & I thought the odd tv dinner on a Friday night was fucking awesome. My very own Swanson chicken pot pie was a night to be rejoiced!
Some interesting questions. I am particularly conscious of how we eat at home because we don't eat together and I feel guilty about it... but not guilty enough to make all the changes that would be necessary for us to eat as a family.

When we were growing up, we ate as a family at my mom's house. She is a decent cook, although our dinners were heavily inflected by what everyone else was eating in the 70s/80s: pork chop casseroles, tacos and yes, beef stroganoff, with the odd homemade (okay, bought-in phyllo dough) spinach pie. My dad wasn't a great cook but did introduce us to falafel and duck.

I have never been invested in cooking, although that's slowly changing now. I know about good food but have never prioritised its preparation; which is why I agree with the article jenn posted: you can put together something decent in 10mins without resorting to prepackaged or posh deli foods (although access to a good supermarket makes a difference). When I first moved in with the mister I made a few dinners, usually something simple like grilled salmon with veggies (I wasn't about to ramp up my cooking just because I was now living with a dude.) We soon realised we had different approaches to dinner. I like to know when and what I'll be having for dinner in advance and ideally I like to eat early during the week. The mister eats when he's hungry and only then will he start rooting aroound in the fridge. This approach was too random for me so we agreed to eat separately during the week.

Word to this: 'When the fuck did kids get so much power over what is being served?'
When his daughter moved in with us we realised, like many kids, she's a bit of a picky eater. I wasn't about to spend time making something she'd push around her plate and/or something less healthy than I'd prefer to eat. As the mister gets in later than us usually she'll get her own dinner from a well stocked pantry/fridge; he feels this is teaching her responsibility. We might hang out while we're eating, but we don't eat the same thing.

The mister makes awesome curries from scratch, and increasingly at weekends I'll bake something or make a huge bowl of special pasta/home-made mac n cheese w/ extra bacon etc, which we might all eat. We have a good time if we go out to dinner, but in day to day life we eat separately.

I do feel judged for eating like this and then immediately feel it's no-one's business. Defensive much? dry.gif
this is all stuff that i think about often, feel guilty about, and then hurriedly shove to the back of my mind. that article re-convicted me. when i lived with my parents, with all my siblings, my mom cooked. she wasn't julia child; she didn't make complicated, fancy recipes, but none the less, she COOKED. true, there were plenty of nights with hamburger helper, and our side dishes often were seasoned rice or au gratin potatoes from a box mix, but there were also meat loafs, roasts, chicken cooked in a myriad of ways (and ALWAYS bought whole and cut up before cooking), enchiladas, fresh or frozen veggies, cakes (some from mixes, some not), pies, homemade rolls, etc. she still cooks this way, i imagine since my youngest brother is still in high school. when i moved out of the house (and out of the dorms) the first time, i was managing a level of slightly lower quality cooking: more hamburger helper, frozen chicken breasts grilled on the stove, etc. but now, i hardly ever prepare a meal. i think part of it is my work schedule; i have absolutely no regularity, i might be off for four days in a row, or just one, i might be coming home at three or at seven. another factor is that, yes, i am cooking for one solitary person. on the rare occasion that i do plan and prepare an actual dish, i get two, maybe three small meals out of it, and then it sits in the fridge getting older and older until i throw it out.

i think that ultimately, my problem is in the planning. by the time i start thinking about food, even if i want to actually cook, i don't have a supply of the right ingredients required. or, sometimes while grocery shopping, i'll see something and buy it, thinking "that would be fun to prepare," without thinking about what else i will need to cook it WITH. i also have developed enough opinions about pre-fab foods that i don't even buy things that would facilitate making simpler, faster things like the box mixes i mentioned earlier. which is stupid, because then i either eat snack food or go out for dinner.

'When the fuck did kids get so much power over what is being served?' THIS. holy crap. i just yesterday had a conversation with a co-worker about how her daughter, as a three-year-old, would refuse to eat a hamburger if the appropriate toppings had not been put on in the right order. she was laughing about it, and talking about more of her picky rules, as if they were "cute" and she was helpless to do anything but comply with the tiny tyrant. i ultimately was biting my tongue so hard i couldn't muster a response to anything she said. in fact, most of my co-workers with kids talk about this. one only ever goes out to eat, because that's all her kids will eat. i'm just baffled, because i doubt that all of them grew up like that. i mean, it's true, my mom would try to take into consideration the tastes of the people she was cooking for. but i was a quite picky kid, and spent my childhood picking things like tomatoes and mushrooms out of casseroles, or taking the required "taste" of one side dish and eating more of another. i couldn't leave the table until i had eaten enough (i don't remember what constituted 'enough'), and if i really just refused to eat something, then i just wasn't going to eat. and of course, i can't say anything to these people (i've tried once or twice) because if you don't have kids, you have no credibility and have no idea what it's like. but, ah, that's a post for a different thread, i suppose...
Just wondering if anyone here is interested in the raw food thing? Maybe not but thought I'd ask.

On your current topic, I ate mostly vegetarian growing up. Mom fed us all kinds of hippie crap, tofu etc. If we didn't like it, that was too darn bad. We were required to eat what was on the plate (smelt fish, oh ugh!). I make my own kids eat what I prepare within reason. I don't serve them things they really, truly hate but I will literally spoon feed the 9 year old if he gives me a hard time. I make the bites enormous so he's usually happy just to eat it on his own in moderate spoonfuls instead wink.gif
And we do eat meals together, breakfast and lunch. I'm usually hopping up and down to fetch things but it's the one time we can sit together and talk about our day so I like to do it.

That said, there is no forcing a 3 year old to eat (or do) anything. They are absolutely irrational creatures with pretty much what I would call zero respect for authority at that age. No joke, I am a strict mama but my girl is pure insanity. I do often leave her food on the table for a while after meals because she'll come back and eat it in time but no way do I make them something different to eat or give them a snack because they say they are starving before bed after not finishing dinner. Forget it! And if there is a temper tantrum she gets sent from the table. She may be uncontrollable right now but that doesn't mean I'm going to reverse the order of power and give her control over me! That sets the stage for future trouble of much greater proportion.

I have been a lazy bastard in the kitchen lately. My mojo has got up and gone... With the season change I just don't know what I feel like eating anymore. I can't wait for fresh produce to start showing up at roadside stands. Then we all gorge ourselves on that and barely even prepare a thing! Corn, blueberries, tomatoes... I can't wait.
Firstly, I wish to reiterate that I'm merely curious about this most mundane, yet compelling thing we do call eating. No recriminations here. Well, unless you've ever made a Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake; for that I totally judge you & I do it all snooty like! HA!

OMG, pork chop casseroles! How could I forget?! So delicious!

I must admit, I have luxuries many do not: a flexible schedule & a low overhead. I cook for myself mostly, I usually make anywhere from two-four servings of things because my OCD heart sets up a general "meal plan" (If you saw my grocery lists you'd die of laughter at the specificity of them!). Like, if I make a chicken, I will have a thigh/leg for dinner, turn a thigh/leg/breast into chicken salad, use whatever is left over for a quick wrap/soup/salad topper. And I do keep my pantry stocked with the basics, so I almost always have whatever is needed on hand whether it's tinned tomato, spices, chicken stock, etc.

Once a month my bf comes to visit & I will usually spend the days prior to his arrival prepping foodstuffs for us to consume between bouts of canoodling. Who wants to cook when they could be getting fucked nine ways to Sunday?

I don't really know who set the rules for our dining habits when I was growing up. Most likely both of my parents because they both came from large families where dinner was an important time: Not only did they all catch up at dinner, but it was a way to disseminate information amongst the ranks without chasing everybody down. It was also VERY patriarchal in nature; like many men of their generation, my grandfathers expected certain things to be done a certain way. Dinner was served at six, period.

All of these things left marks on dining during my childhood. The table was always set, my father was served first, then my mother, then me. My father ate like you were going to take it away, I ate normally, my mom pushed things around her plate for a half an hour. The only truly ODD thing about it was that my father was a delivery driver, so we ate on what we called "UPS time". Meaning, the meal would be kept warm until my father arrived for dinner. We could be eating at six during the summer & as late as eleven during the holiday rush.

It was quite amusing to me after I moved out at eighteen at how swiftly things changed. My mother hadn't had to prepare the family meals in a good five years, she wasn't about to start again for just my father & herself. This threw my father into complete confusion. Why wasn't dinner on the table? And for that matter, why was there nothing in the house except condiments, cereal, milk, & Cheetos? My mom's refrain became, "You're hungry? So am I. Make me something when you make something for you." LOL. Suddenly it was my dad going to the grocery at eleven pm to do the shopping & he was coming home from a long day at work & then fixing dinner.

On kids & the picky eating, my father ruled with a culture of abject fear = respect. He had no patience for any shenanigans, whatever age, if I didn't want to get belted one, I did as told. I'm not saying it was right, but it did get the job done. My mom on the other hand, was a bargainer: "Try it. Eat half. If it's so bad I won't make it again." The only things I outright eschewed as a kid were black eyed peas, peas & eggs with runny yolks.

Also, there are a lot of things I thought I didn't like, then as an adult I realized that I actually did like, my mother was just a lackluster cook. Asparagus being a prime example. Hated it. Now I LOVE it.
We used to eat a lot of Totino's frozen pizzas, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets/patties, and grilled cheese when we were kids back in the '80s, but the absolute worst was Rice-A-Roni with peas, which my mom made constantly. But never once did Hamburger Helper or even boxed mac&cheese ever cross my parents' door when we were kids. They've since embraced the mac&cheese for the case of my nephew, but never the HH. My dad would frequently work late hours, so we'd get a lot of frozen food during the week, unless Dad was going to be home at a normal hour, in which case we'd get stuff like pork chops, stew, chili, and spaghetti (blech!). My mom makes the best stew and chili ever. The weekday food was very simple, and besides the frozen stuff, nutritious. My dad is a real stickler for making sure there are at least 2 vegetables at every meal, and usually more. On weekends, my dad would usually cook. We had a lot of grilled steaks and such with baked potatoes. He could be really inventive, though, too. He was a cook at a fancy-schmancy place back in the day, so he has skills.

If we didn't like what was served, we were forced to sit at the table with it long after everyone else had gone, and eat it until my parents got sick of us looking at it, but no way were we going to get a special meal. It's really strange to me that now my parents, who my 7-year-old nephew lives with, make him whatever he wants and he isn't asked or forced to eat what everyone else eats. The child has never eaten a real potato or piece of steak. It's all cheeseburgers, pizza, grilled cheese and breakfast foods for him, and yet he's still incredibly small for his age. Had we been as picky as he is, we'd have been spanked all the way up the stairs to our rooms. All I know is that if/when the giant and I ever spawn, our child is going to know exactly who's the boss of their meals: me. We're going to eat as a family, just like I did growing up, dammit.

I wish I could say that I personally cook a lot, but I can't. While we do usually eat at home, it's usually simple stuff like burgers or frozen chicken breasts/steak/fish with some sort of potato, either baked or the kind from a box, and the giant usually prepares it. I do enjoy cooking, though, but would normally rather not invest the time in it on weeknights. I do a lot of baking on the weekends, really good stuff, but unless we're having guests for dinner, I don't prepare a lot of real food from ingredients. When I do, it's stuff like risotto, pork loin, stuffed green peppers, roast beef, and it becomes a big elaborate thing. Before the giant and I moved in together, my meals primarily came from delis or drive-throughs unless I went out for real meals with my brother or friends. That's pretty much how college went, too, only it was picked up from the student union instead of being fetched with a car.

I just wish I had the time and energy to really cook every day, but most of the time I just can't be bothered.

when i was a real little kid my mom had a huge garden and canned and froze all kinds of fresh veggies and stuff. we made our own jam from strawberries we picked ourselves, and her raspberry ice cream topping was the bomb, especially with homemade fudge sauce. ohhh yeahhh.

after we moved, she had a smaller garden and we mostly canned green beans, dill pickles, and, of course, tomato sauce. nothing better than a fresh tomato right off the bush, still warm from the sun. i do remember sitting at the kitchen table, staring at a small dish of home canned beets, tho. for hours. i still don't eat beets.

my mom usually cooked in our family. she's a pretty good cook. she was an excellent baker, but unfortunately, she doesn't do much of that any more. we ate some boxed mix type stuff, mac'n'cheese, HH, etc, but she usually doctored it up some. she did do a lot of things from scratch.

my dad made huge salads every night, which i was "allowed" to eat with him (nice trick to get me to eat veggies).

we rarely all sat at the table together to eat, tho. i often sat in the kitchen by myself, reading, while my parents ate in the living room and watched tv. that was partly because of my dad being excessively strict about table manners. he drove my mom nuts with that!

i usually cook a lot for my kids and family, but lately i've been kind of burned out on it. my oven is broken at the mo, which is damned annoying, so that complicates things. i do a lot of stuff from scratch, too. i kind of have to, tho, because of my sons' being allergic to gluten and dairy. i can't afford all the pre-made stuff! mr damona cooks sometimes, but he's got some odd tastes lol so we don't let him in the kitchen all that often. he does good on the grill, tho. he got into grilling fruit last year, pineapple slices, peach halves. it was pretty cool. when i do make stuff from a box or can or whatever, i usually touch it up. i just can't leave stuff alone lol. gotta add the extra beans and salsa and hot sauce to the canned chili, gotta add mushrooms and garlic and diced tomatoes and herbs to the spaghetti sauce, etc. i make a lot of soups and stuff from scratch, stuff that can simmer for hours and i don't have to do much with it after getting it set up. i also do a lot of stuff in the crock pot.

my bgp and i are getting back into doing things the old ways. we went apple picking and canned a bunch of stuff last year, she's starting a garden this year, we're planning to go strawberry picking in few weeks and make homemade jam, that kind of thing. i like it.

Pepper, I can't believe your little girl is 3! I remember when you posted about finding out your pregnant with her.

This all made me curious about how Busties ate when they were growing up vs what they eat now. What did you eat in your family? Who cooked it? Did you eat it together? Did you get to eat fast food? What did you eat when you moved out/went to college, how did your diet change? How do you eat now? Do you cook to live or live to cook? Do you cook meals for one, are you cooking for a roomie or partner or a family? Do you like dinner parties? Do you have any favorite foods that you only eat by yourself? What are your favorites from childhood & what are your favorites now? What is comfort food to you? What family recipes would you never fuck with & which ones have you made your own? Have you ever consulted a friend/partner's family for special recipes from their lives?

I'm only 25 so I was at home not all that long ago. I had the luxury of living in a house where my parents could afford to live comfortably on my dad's income alone, so my mom was a stay at home for pretty much my whole life. She also loves to cook so memories of my childhood are full of home cooked meals made from scratch. I always feel like we had fantastic nutritious meals, and in my early childhood I don't remember eating much junk food (except the stuff she made) but later on in my teens my younger brother got really picky and she just sort of gave him what he wanted. She started buying a lot more cereals, fruit snacks, cookies, chips, etc. I moved out last year, but in the last couple of years I've asked her repeatedly not to buy that stuff because if it's in the house it's a lot easier to eat. She's also really bad for spoiling my nice, her granddaughter. We did eat fast food maybe once a month but I don't remember it being a regular thing. My mom did all the cooking and we usually ate together but in our teens we probably did a lot more eating in front of a tv. We always had a TV in our kitchen so I usually ate at the table whether I was alone or with everyone else - I'd say the 5 of us sat down at least once a week together.

I think my diet has improved since I moved out. I love to cook too, I don't buy much junk food (of course I do occasionally), I can't eat certain foods because of allergies and GI issues, and I find a lot of "slow food" pretty damn easy to throw together. I cook for 2 usually, me and paperboy. He's been helping me out more in the kitchen but I do most of the cooking. A typical week usually involves a bigger sunday meal and leftovers last us lunch/dinner for a day or two, and then we often work opposite times during the week so I might cook a second meal which gives us some more leftovers. I would say I could a full meal 2-3 times a week, however, I also make pancakes and things on weekends and for lunch I'll boil up some quinoa and throw in some balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, feta cheese, olives and snap peas and I'm set. I do a lot of quick little side dishes like that so I can easily toss them in my bag when I'm on the run. One big difference between our house and my parents is that our fridge and cupboards usually look pretty bare but all the basics are there. My parents fridge is jam packed and food constantly goes bad. The freezer has so much food in it I don't know how they ever get through it. I like our method better because I always know what's in the fridge or freezer is reasonably fresh.

I also make big batches of soups and stocks and freeze them. Yesterday I made broccoli and cheese soup to get rid of our veggies and it took 30 minutes from start to finish - chopping the veggies, simmering for 25 min, making a quick roux, adding the cheese, and mixing it all together. To me, that is a simple fast meal. Paperboy thinks that's way too complicated.

Another thing that has helped since i moved out is that we get our produce delivered weekly. They choose what we get and we can look online to see ahead of time. It's great because I can often plan a meal or two before the veggies come and it gives me a chance to use things i wouldn't normally try. We're going to stop using it for the summer when the Farmers market opens but it's been a really great experience. Many of the foods we get are local and most are certified organic. We get a newsletter even telling us about the families that grow our lettuce. I also just picked up a bunch of canning equipment and a dehydrator. The food preservation movement and slow food movements have really inspired me.

The funny thing is, my changing eating habits have had a real influence on my parents now. When me and paperboy moved out we switched to organic, local, free range, humanely treated meat from a little place that's very reasonably priced. My parents have just made the switch too. And my mom doesn't really eat gluten anymore because when I went GF while living at home she felt a lot better. But my mom raised us right with food I think - home made baked goods, soups, big weekend breakfasts of pancakes or cinnamon buns...she's always creating something new. I get her to guest blog on my blog sometimes - the last one she did was a recipe for butter:
ketto, i've really enjoyed it in here when you've talked about food. thanks for the link to the blog! do you know anything about cultured butter? i buy it from the store if i can find it, and i'm pretty sure it just has cultures added in. however, i was talking to my mom, and she started talking about the foxfire books, which she read religiously in her younger days. (the foxfire books are a set of books written in the 70's about a real school project where students went and interviewed elderly people living in rural appalachia about their lives.) these books referenced setting the cream out to "turn" before whipping it into butter; i assume this does the culturing thing naturally. but i'm mystified as to how one would know when it has "turned" and when it is just plain BAD!
I'll have to ask my mom what we used to eat when we were kids. I don't remember enough...I know there was not a lot of processed foods. But my mom wasn't Martha Stewart, either.

So, I need some help. Over the past year, I've gotten into a bad habit/cycle of buying ingredients meal-by-meal, rather than keeping a well-stocked kitchen and deciding on meals based on what I have. I would like to hear what all of you consider "staples"- ingredients you try to always have on hand to make meals with. I really want to get back on track because it's gotten to the point where if I don't go shopping every other day or so, there's next to nothing to eat around here.
Thanks for all the input everybody! It's interesting to know!

I tend to buy my proteins in bulk when they are on sale & I make a point of consuming within a month or two of purchase. Right now I have bulk chicken breasts, thighs/legs, a duck, salmon steaks, tuna steaks, raw peeled/de-veined shrimp, chicken livers, duck liver, pork chops, a small pork roast, pork ribs, hamburger, a small pot roast, a variety steaks, & one left over leg of lamb. I like to ride my bike to the market to buy produce every few days, though.

Things I always try to have on hand: eggs, cheeses, butter, half&half, coconut milk, bacon, onions, garlic, ginger root, spaghetti squash, oils (olive, coconut, citrus), a variety of vinegars, mayo, mustards, dried herbs/spices, dutch process cocoa (Mole!), corn meal, Bob's Red Mill flours, brown rice, barley, couscous, orzo, dried mushrooms, beans, canned tomato, tomato paste, tomato sauce, anchovies, olives (black, kalamata, stuffed with garlic), pickles, capers, frozen stocks, frozen spinach (for some reason I like frozen spinach better than fresh in quiche/fritatta), & nuts/seeds.
We buy our protein in bulk, too. If it's in a multi-pack, like chicken breasts, I make sure to separate them so we can use them as needed. We also always have several kinds of cheese around the house, milk, OJ, olive oil, pastas, eggs (lots of breakfast-as-dinner meals for us), potatoes, cut carrots/celery, baking supplies, and always some sort of bread. I wish I could say we make a point of always buying protein from small butcher shops and produce from the farmer's market, but we mostly go to the big grocery stores and Costco. When I'm doing the shopping on my own, I'm more likely to go the organic/free range route because I'm paying for it and the giant doesn't have a choice, but he honestly doesn't care about that stuff and I get tired of having the argument with him.
We buy our meat in bulk too, once every 3 weeks or so. We can stretch it for quite a while - usually I'll pick up some pork buttons, pork tenderloin, maybe some beef for a roast, bison smokes, bison burgers, 2 packs of ground meat. I don't buy chickens very often because there so much more expensive free run or organic, but when I do I buy a whole chicken and break it down. We got a huge free run chicken last week and one of the breasts gave us dinner for paperboy and I plus a leftover sandwich.

As for stuff we keep on hand, my list is pretty similar to AP's, but with more gluten free flours.

Paperboy was complaining the other day because he said I've made him too healthy and now he feels sick when he munches out on too much junk food. tongue.gif We still eat a lot of junk food at home though - home made junk food is still junk food but at least I know what's going into it.
I can't buy much meat at a time as I don't have a freezer sad.gif. I generally have: pasta, couscous, rice, noodles, stock cubes, oils + vinegars, soy sauce, herbs + spices, butter, eggs, onions, garlic, bacon, ginger, lemons, feta + parmesan + cheddar cheese, milk, tinned tuna, some emergency pasta sauces.

We don;t have much space in our kitchen, so I buy my meat + veg from the local shops at the weekend with a rough plan in mind of what I'm going to cook in the week. Any staples that I run out of go on a list on the fridge to be picked up at the same time.
i don't buy much meat because it's expensive. i usually pick up a couple roasts or something to have on hand, or cube steaks, cuz they're pretty cheap, but that's about it. i have expensive tastes lol and i would rather go without than have inferior food.

my fridge usually has rice and or soy milk, organic skim milk, soy and regular cream cheese and sour cream, goat cheese, soy "cheese" slices, and various other types of cheese (can you tell we like cheese?!) i also have hot dogs or sausages of some sort in there, too, and eggs. lots of eggs.

my pantry has tinned diced tomatoes, various kinds of beans, regular and rice pastas, salsa, canned chicken and tuna (for casseroles), mushrooms and black olives, flour, various gluten free flours, rice, various kinds of broth and stock, and a big thing of oatmeal.

i usually keep frozen peas, corn, carrots, broccoli, and some sort of quick stuff, like frozen burritos or lean cuisines or hot pockets, in the freezer.
Aren't eggs simply marvelous?! So many options for preparing them! I love fritattas & quiches, but sometimes an omelette made of odds & ends or a plate of soft, slow cooked scrambled eggs is perfection. Sometimes I will soft cook them in the shell, crack the tops open & dip grilled asparagus spears into the yolk. Tonight I will be deviling them with bottarga, I think.

On gluten free flours, what are people's preferred brands? I have used Pamela's, which I liked a great deal & am using Bob's Red Mill right now since I got a good deal four diff bags in a bulk sale.

I try to stay away from the fast frozen, but I cannot live without the odd tamale. My auntie's neighbors sell them out of their house & I'll buy a bag if I'm over there & they happen to be slinging. I swear, it's like trying to buy a knock-off handbag, though. If they don't recognize me they pretend they don't speak English & that they are not selling food from their kitchen. Puh-leese. You're either selling drugs or food, lady, with the way cars pull up & then quickly leave after scoring. And nobody buys drugs in giant styrofoam cups & used Walmart bags!
I'm jealous of your ability to eat eggs, ap! I love scrambled eggs in the morning but ever since i started having GI issues with food eggs are one of the worst things I can eat - they make me extremely sick for 2-3 days, and the illness starts within 10 minutes after eating them. My naturopath suspect I'm allergic but I'm hoping I can re-introduce them later.

I mix my own GF flours using this recipe:
I usually keep brown rice flour, white rice flour, sorghum flour, sweet rice flour, coconut flour, etc on hand all the time. We have a good bulk store in the area that keeps their GF flours separate from their wheat flour and I've never had an issue.

Four chickens has some amazing recipes on her site. My favourite (and my partners) is the cranberry cake. Mmmmm....last time I made it with cream cheese icing.

I love that this thread is getting so much traffic lately. smile.gif
I can hardly get over how big the two of them have gotten myself Ketto! Huge.

Things we've always got around are rice milk, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, many herbs and spices of course but very few condiments, jams and nut butters, and frozen berries and bananas for smoothies. I always keep a few types of dried beans and some grains around too, rice, kamut and quinoa lately. With the kids we tend to eat very simply, verging on boring but I prefer that anyhow. I love a delicious meal but it has to be a treat with my tricky digestion.

Oh, staple #1 (how could I forget?!) WINE! It's neccessary to have more wine and less whining in my life. When the whining gets thick I have another glass to balance it out rolleyes.gif
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